browned ground

There are lots of big problems in the world. Most of them are caused by or have been exacerbated by social media.

This is the one I’ll make my moral stand on.

As you scroll through any feed, you often see cutesy time lapsed recipes like this:


Most of these are awful. They’re either too complex or overly rely on combining pre-processed foods which is not “cooking”. But I will not devolve here into the wild frontier that are online recipe comments.

Many of these posts involve ground beef. Invariably, just like the one above, the stop motion has them adding garlic, onions, salt, etc before or with the beef. They then drain the grease and LOSE ALL THE FLAVOR from those items. (Or they don’t drain which is even nastier.)

Brown ground beef first. Drain the fat. (Maybe even deglaze pan at this point.) THEN add your aromatics, spices, etc. Add ground beef back to the pan. Then continue with your madness to add your cream-of-soup, rice krispies, or whatever.

social is a marketing tool, not a strategy

I often make the analogy that social media marketing is like building your house on land that you don’t own. To be certain, social media marketing is an essential element in today’s marketing plans, but to put all the marketing eggs in that basket is crazy. You have no way of knowing how the social platforms will change and how those changes will affect your strategy. Two things have popped up lately that have reinforced this point to me both as a user and as a marketer.

A few weeks ago, I was in Nashville at a speaking engagement and was shocked to discover that I could no longer check-in on Foursquare. They have split the app and now are forcing me to download a second app called Swarm to check-in.

I could easily go on for paragraphs on why this is a stupid idea (check the dreadful iTunes reviews for Swarm to get an idea of the backlash). But the main reason it affects me is that I don’t use Foursquare “to easily see who’s out nearby and who wants to hang out later” as Swarm promises to do. I used Foursquare as a diary / travel log, restaurant discovery tool, and coupons. (free chips/salsa at Chili’s!)

Unless Foursquare reverts to something similar to what it was before, I will abandon Foursquare much like Peter Shankman did.

Life devastating occurrence? Of course not. As the hipsters like to say, it’s certainly a first-world problem. But all my check-ins are there. If I stop using Foursquare, they’re gone. My personal history wiped because a few people I don’t know changed an app. And the potential for destruction lies in wait elsewhere such as my personal travelogue currently presented as TripAdvisor reviews, all my tweets, etc.

The Foursquare debacle is from an (angry) user standpoint. Marketers using social media have much more at stake with adjustments and changes to the platforms. This Facebook post from a blogger I follow shows the foolishness of how the social platforms are killing their golden goose.

don't trust facebook

And I agree with Matt. Good content always wins, but you need to gain control of your list. If your marketing strategy is just to get more Facebook fans or more Twitter followers, or whatever, then you are ensuring your eventual failure when you no longer have access to those consumers you worked (and maybe paid) to get.

Your goal (every marketer’s goal) SHOULD be to gain more audience who is dedicated to consuming your relevant content. Use social media as a tool to deliver that content, but own your list.

Always remember, especially with social media, that if something is “free”, then YOU are the product that is being sold.

airquote marketing

Dear small business whose ad is featured in this photo…social media done wrong
Firstly, you’re not “using” the right term for people to “like” your page on “Facebook”.
I further “suggest” that you actually take a step back with your social marketing “strategy” to find actual “fans” and “customers” to connect with through social media than using a short-sighted “bumrush” to win something that has a $99 “value”.

the AMWAY of Facebook

I’m going to stop using the phrase “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” (Flavor-Aid, actually) and I’m replacing it with “Don’t post about Zija on your Wall”.

Maybe it’s just the prism that I view Facebook through, but apparently the folks up higher on the Zija pyramid tell their underlings to use Facebook as the primary marketing tool to expand the cult.

These days, everytime I open Facebook it’s like that time someone tried to proposition me in a hotel (!)

If you want to use Facebook to sell / promote something, use a page. It’s OK to use your profile to point your friends to the page (a few times). Let those who are interested opt-in.

the top 3 facebook marketing mistakes

Facebook pages are getting a redesign similar to the one that Facebook profiles recently underwent. If you’re a page admin, you can voluntarily go to the new design or be automatically converted around March 1st. I suggest you go ahead and opt-in to the change a few days after it’s offered. (Let others deal with the inevitable initial bugs, but still be an early adopter.)

changes are coming to facebook. Is your marketing ready?There are lots of positives (and negatives) surrounding the change. I think the best change is the new ability for email alerts on page activity (I don’t have a clue why this wasn’t there from the start) But at the same time, I will miss tabs.

If you’re already actively marketing your brand on Facebook, you’ll find this post from ‘Inside Facebook’ on the redesign a very helpful guide.

But I urge you to take a step even further back and evaluate your Facebook marketing strategy. Are you sure you’ve covered some of the basics?

Are you making some of the following mistakes as a marketer using Facebook to connect with customers?

Why am I here?
Brands are spending lots of money to get people to like them on Facebook. But what are companies doing with them once they get them there? Getting people to like you on Facebook should not be a marketing end-goal; it should be a tactic in a larger strategy.

The like is not the end of the marketing; it’s just the beginning.

How often are you posting new content? Are you interacting with fans? Are you just re-posting your traditional marketing messages or are you having a conversation?

It’s also important to remember that having a Facebook page is not a web marketing strategy. It should be one element of a much larger plan.

Profiles are not Pages
A profile is something on Facebook that an individual person has. A page is for brands. If you’re doing business or trying to promote something, you need a page; not a profile. There are 3 big reasons for this.

1) The major reason is that it’s against Facebook rules for anything other than an individual person to have a profile. You run the risk of being suspended.
2) Pages work differently than profiles. Many of these things (like some of the changes that are coming) are designed to help you market and sell rather than play Farmville.
3) A person can only have 5,000 friends on Facebook. If you ever aspire to have more than 5,000 fans, you need to move to a page as soon as you can.

The worst thing you can do is have both a page and a profile. It confuses your customers. Post on the profile numerous times that you’re moving to the page. Try to get as many to move with you as you can. Chalk up the lost stragglers as a marketing lesson.

Get a decent URL
I see the same mistakes all the time when someone is trying to convey the location of the brand’s page. If you have over 25 fans, you can get a simple URL like www.facebook.com/BrandZeitgeist by going to facebook.com/username and choosing your name. That’s alot simpler to communicate than the ambiguous “find us on facebook” or the incorrect “become our friend on facebook”. (see previous ‘Profiles are not Pages’ point)

The only thing harder to communicate is the deadly full page name and ID URL like http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Houchens/17831081539. I’m sure that URL will flow beautifully in your radio commercials (and take up half the time).

Something else I see alot is people taking the full URL sin one step further and promoting some of their personal browsing history like: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lighthouse-Restaurant-Sulphur-Well-KY/114743131874741#!/pages/Chris-Houchens/17831081539 goes to my page but also shows that I have been thinking about going to Sulphur Well for some country ham. The url will still work when you take the pages/Lighthouse-Restaurant-Sulphur-Well-KY/114743131874741#!/ out of it.

These are the big three mistakes that I see brands make the most often. What would you add to this list? What are brands do you think are using Facebook effectively?

(by the way — when you like me on Facebook, you’ll get my latest blog posts delivered in your news feed.)

i like it when it makes sense

So you’ve probably seen several of your female Facebook friends post status updates such as:

  • “I like it on the kitchen table.”
  • “I like it on a chair at the bar.”
  • “I like it on the floor of my van.”

While on the surface, this seems like a titillating reveal of personal information; it’s actually very mundane. The status updates refer to where the person puts down her purse when she gets home.

(Sidenote: I saw one woman post “I like it in the shower” which would imply one of two things. Either she has a wet purse or she went T.M.I. because she didn’t understand what was happening.)

The purse location meme supposedly is to raise awareness that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Compare this to the bra color status Facebook meme earlier this year.

The bra color status event was very clever because … you know … breasts and bras … they kind of go together like peas and carrots. But what do purses have to do with breast cancer? Yes, most women carry a purse and most have breasts, but is that a strong connection to breast cancer awareness? How does the location of a purse get a woman to have a mammogram or do a lump check?

Before someone posts the inevitable comment that I don’t care about breast cancer, please know that I do. But the purse thing has two major considerations that may hurt the cause.

Several women’s groups are raising the question of whether things like this are contributing to some of the backlash and fatigue over breast cancer awareness month.

And even if you make a connection between purses and breast cancer, the thing that strikes me the most about the purse meme is just the sheer copycat nature of it.

You can’t make lightning strike twice by astroturfing a mediocre replacement of a previously successful grassroots viral meme.

And btw – my wife likes it on the hearth of the fireplace.

social media marketing perfection

Small businesses and large corporations are all atwitter about how to do social media. (pun intended)

They hire snake oil social media gurus or they rely on advice from an agency (who only has 13 facebook fans and 81 twitter followers — mostly their employees and spammers) to sell them things that are common sense.

A few weekends ago, I enjoyed the perfect social media incident. Nashville’s Noshville Deli placed these Facebook updates in their followers’ streams on a lazy rainy Sunday morning.

And that’s all there is to it. You’ve placed your brand in the online lifestream of your customers. Just interact with them (and sell) based on what’s happening with their lives.

The secret to all marketing (not just social media) is pretty simple: It’s not about what you have to sell. It’s about what people want to buy.

It’s not rocket science. (unless you’re selling rockets)

learning as you go

I would venture to say there are very few people who would skydive, ride a bull, wrestle alligators, or climb one of the Seven Summits without experience or at least after watching a very good orientation video.

And yet companies are rolling up their pants legs and wading out into the shark-infested waters of social media without a clue. They’re letting the interns and other untrained personnel control the messaging to some of their most important contacts and setting up a social media disaster.

Social media is currently biting Nestle on the Nestle facebook page.

Protesters are taking to the Nestle page to voice opposition about their alleged use of palm oil from deforested areas in Indonesia. That’s trouble, but a prudent social media manager could handle it (like the way Southwest handled the Kevin Smith incident). Instead, the admin(s) of the Nestle page went on the offensive responding to fans in a derisive and aggressive tone. This is not breaking a social media rule. It’s destruction of basic PR 101. The company should never argue with someone in public (and for all practical purposes, it was the COMPANY not the admin making the comments.)

Overall, this is a great look at how companies should think about their online reputation management mechanics and the need to plan for an online crisis response in the same way you’d plan for a traditional crisis.

My favorite thing about the Nestle incident is that on Friday the admin(s) posted

“Social media: as you can see we’re learning as we go. Thanks for the comments.”

This is true for any brand. Despite what the social media snake-oil salesmen say, there is no one who actually has any real experience in social media.

What companies should have experience in is basic customer service, public relations, advertising, etc and apply those lessons learned in old media to the new model. And if you’re going to jump in the deep end of the pool, you’d better know how to swim and expect to get wet.

your company’s looming social media disaster

Think about if you’ve met any of these cutting edge people…

  • Remember when the Macarena came out? You probably danced it at some public gathering for the few weeks it was popular. Then it went away. And then a few months later, you were at a gathering and a person played the song and thought they were on the hip cutting edge.
  • Someone in your organization just discovered the concept of viral video.
  • Has someone in the last year or so asked you if you were gettin’ jiggy with it?
  • You get chain emails from them that were debunked on snopes.com years ago.

You’ve met these people, right?
These people are currently signing up for Facebook and Twitter accounts.

We’re over the adoption curve hump of Facebook and we’re steadily climbing it for Twitter which means people who aren’t necessarily online competent are now using online tools.

I’m sure you have at least one friend (probably more) on Facebook that you’re embarrassed FOR them because they post inappropriate things, spam you with requests, don’t realize that their friends can see their conversations/posts, etc. They’re new to the space, and still learning the ropes until they find out the proper etiquette.

For as much as the online world is an open-source / free-wheeling / anything-goes community, we all know there are rules…many of them unwritten ones. The community generally supports, instructs, or ignores individual newcomers when these “rules” are broken. (ALL CAPS, spam, chain emails, etc)

But that only goes for individuals. When a company / organization steps out into the water, it’s expected that they know how to swim. And that same supporting community for individuals becomes a lynch mob for corporate entities who make even minor mistakes. You’ve seen it happen.

And just as there are individuals who are laggards to the social media party, there are now companies who see the train passing by and figure they better get on — even if they don’t know what they are doing.

I am not saying that there is a “right way” to do social media. As I once tweeted

how to spot a true “social media expert” — google their name and the phrase “NO, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!

But if your employees are venturing out onto social networks and are carrying the mantle of your organization, they need to at least understand the basics of social media and somewhat be cognizant of the “online rules”. Anything else is just asking for a disaster.

Many companies don’t see this looming disaster because they just see small numbers of customers engaging in social media with the organization and don’t understand the deep implications of making a mistake there. Remember this: Your email list, facebook fans, twitter followers, etc are some of your most important customers. These are the people who have stood up and said I WANT to engage with your company. They are the 20% of the 80/20 rule.

Why are you leaving this important group with the interns or inexperienced employees who have no idea how to talk to them?

oprah eats zuckerberg

oprah facebook zuckerbergWell, in case you were wondering, it’s official. Facebook has now gone completely mainstream. Zuckerberg was on Oprah today.

Apparently, Zuckerberg likes to have a weird interview every March. There was his fiasco last year at SXSW and then there was this Oprah thing. You could tell he had been coached but watch the video — was he really interviewed? It was worse than a Kathie Lee/Hoda attack with the hosts playing the part of the interviewer and the interviewee.

I liked when they asked him what to do when someone you don’t like wants to be your friend and he just completely ignored the question. He could run for President. And it was that way for most things they “asked” him. What does it mean to “poke”? How do people buy you drinks? Etc. I’m waiting for some Oprah addicts to request friendship from me now.

btw — did you read my facebook conspiracy theory tweet today?